Cetas Blog Post

7 Types of Phishing Attacks

November 1, 2022

Phishing attacks can take many forms, but one thing they always have in common is using a phony pretext to steal critical information.



Cybercrime is a powerful new tool available to criminals interested in stealing our personal information and blackmailing us for financial gain. Internet thieves can commit highly targeted attacks with little effort because of the medium's speed, anonymity, and user-friendliness.

Phishing is the most common and potentially fatal kind of cyberattack. Researchers estimate that 91% of all cyber attacks begin with a phishing email. Despite the rise of more sophisticated forms of cyberattack, phishing remains the most common method of attack because of its ease of use, high success rate, and high return on investment. In its earliest forms, it included convincing victims to transfer money by claiming to be a prince from Nigeria or a victim in dire need of medical care. Modern phishing attacks are tougher to spot than ever because they are more targeted and clever.

Attackers use phishing to trick people into doing "something improper," such as visiting a malicious website or clicking a harmful link. The goal of a phishing assault is to get the victim to "do something wrong." The victim might be contacted through phone, social media, or even text messaging in a phishing attempt. However, when individuals use "phishing," they often mean attacks conducted through electronic mail.

Most daily emails are completely harmless, yet phishing emails can directly reach millions of individuals. As a result of an assault, malware like ransomware might be introduced, systems could be destroyed, and money and intellectual property could be stolen.

A phishing email may jeopardize a firm of any size.

This can be an unintentional effect of a larger campaign whose true goal is to collect new passwords or earn fast money, or it could be the beginning of a planned assault on your firm whose true goal is something like the theft of sensitive data. The target of a targeted assault could use information about your employees or company to bolster the credibility of their message. Spear phishing is the common term for this kind of attack. The phisher has succeeded if the victim follows the link or downloads the file. At this point, the malware will begin installing itself on your computer.

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Types of Phishing Attacks

When phishing occurs, the attacker tries to trick the victim into exposing sensitive accounts or other online login information. Phishing, in its different forms, is an effort to defraud victims by taking advantage of the growing number of individuals who do business online. As a result, phishing has surpassed data breaches, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and many other forms of malware as one of the most common cybersecurity threats.

Phishing attacks may take many forms, but one thing they always have in common is using a phony pretext to steal critical information. Among the primary categories are:

1: Spear Phishing

Spear phishing, in contrast to widespread phishing attempts, targets a specific person or organization. In-depth phishing requires certain information, such as the hierarchy of a company. This knowledge is crucial for attaining success.

Spear phishing is a highly targeted phishing method that aims to trick individuals or businesses into divulging private information. Additionally known as "targeted phishing," this term targets a certain individual or group.

These attacks provide the appearance of being genuine by using the victim's specific information. Cybercriminals often use the victims' social media accounts and company websites to gather personal information.

When they have a clearer picture of who they're going after, they'll start sending out targeted emails with links that, when clicked, would install malware on the recipient's computer.

2: Clone Phishing

Email fraud, known as "clone phishing," is committed by copying and resending an existing, legitimate email with malicious attachments. The spoofed email will seem like it came from the true sender, but it will be a modified version with malicious attachments or links.

3: Vishing

Vishing refers to phishing tactics that are carried out over the phone. Phishing attacks, in general, follow the same pattern of deception; however, this one is more human-centered than the others. Con artists often build a false sense of urgency in their victims to get confidential information.

It is usual practice to send the call using a forged ID, providing the appearance that it is coming from a trustworthy source.

In one frequent scenario, the con artist pretends to be a member of the financial institution's staff to warn the account holder about possibly fraudulent activities. As soon as they have gained the victim's trust, they will request personal information such as login credentials, passwords, and PINs. They may conduct identity theft once they get this information.

The information might be used to steal people's identities or empty their bank accounts.

4: Whaling

This kind of phishing goes for high-level targets and distinguishes it from others. A "whale assault" is a phrase used to describe an effort to steal confidential information from top management. As opposed to whale emails, which are said to be significantly more deceptive and harder to detect, phishing emails are quite simple to comprehend.

Emails often have a more official tone to the language used and usually include detailed information about the recipient or the company. Because the perpetrators of this crime have shown a high level of competence, drafting these emails will require a lot of time and mental effort.

5: SMiShing

Smishing, a kind of phishing, is conducted by text messaging instead of email. It's other tactic hackers may use to trick people into handing over sensitive information. This includes financial details, login credentials, and more. The con artist will use this method to send a text message to the target's phone.

Usually, there will be a time-sensitive request for action inside the communication.

6: Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks entail applying psychological pressure to a target to compel them to provide sensitive information. For example, a hacker pretended to be a representative of Bank A while alerting the victim that action on their debit or ATM card was necessary.

The cyber attacker was trying to pressure the victim into providing their information by using their fear of losing access to the money in their bank account.

7: Website Spoofing

Hackers use website spoofing to generate phony versions of legitimate-looking websites.

The attacker gathers your information whenever you use the website to check in to a particular account. For instance, hackers created a false version of Amazon's website with a URL distinct from the actual Amazon.com, even though the two sites seemed to be practically similar. The remaining particulars, including the typefaces and photos, seemed genuine.

The attack's perpetrators were banking on the fact that users would enter their login and password.


Standard anti-phishing measures often rely entirely on users' ability to spot fraudulent messages. Success rates for this approach are likely to be low.

There should be more technical protections put in place instead. By doing so, the company's defenses against phishing attacks will be bolstered without negatively impacting users' ability to get work done.

If you suspect a phishing effort, you may halt it by using one of many methods before any damage is done. In contrast, you may prepare for future attacks by learning from your current ones, minimizing their harm.